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Published: Saturday, 11/27/2010

Helping Haiti

Haiti has had a horrible year, but its suffering is being alleviated by a broad range of humanitarian organizations. And there is hope on the political front with elections Sunday.

In January, Haiti was hit by an earthquake that killed thousands, displaced many more, and destroyed a significant portion of the country's infrastructure. Last month, a cholera epidemic hit, spreading down the Artibonite River Valley. It has killed an estimated 1,400 people and is proliferating across the country.

The epidemic is the second part of Haiti's double whammy. As many as a million people displaced by the earthquake still are living in crowded tent cities, prime targets for the spread of cholera.

Haiti is considered a hard sell to donors because of its many problems and because it isn't always clear how to help. Its people are poor, the country is overcrowded, and it has had notoriously corrupt rulers over the years. Think "Papa Doc" Duvalier and his son, "Baby Doc," as examples.

But helping Haiti isn't impossible, and it's never too late. The country holds elections Sunday for president and 108 legislators. The new executive will take the place of Rene Preval.

Haitians must choose a president who will have the foresight to deal with formidable problems. With as many as 38 candidates for the job, the election results could be as murky as the Artibonite waters.

Haitians also need to stop trying to blame the cholera epidemic on the 17-nation United Nations peacekeeping force.

The way to stop the epidemic is through sanitation measures, careful use and treatment of water before drinking or cooking, and judicious handling of food.

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